Italy def. Philippines, 108-62
Marco Belinelli and Danilo Gallinari (combined for 25 points, 6 rebounds, and 8 assists)
Known for their scoring prowess, Belinelli and Gallinari both showed that they are more than that as the two National Basketball Association (NBA) veterans happily set up their teammates throughout the match. The former had two assists to Luigi Datome in the first four minutes of the game, while the latter never hesitated to give up the ball and look for an open teammate. Even if they didn’t lead the team in the scoring department, their leadership and playmaking took the Italians to a whole new level.
Luigi Datome (17 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 7/7 FG)
The former NBA player (played for the Detroit Pistons and the Boston Celtics) torched the Philippines’ defense as he shot the lights out for the Italian National Team. The starting small forward of the Azzurri only played 16 minutes (second fewest behind point guard Daniel Hackett’s 14), but he still had 17 points. Datome was efficient from the field as he made four shots inside the arc and three more from three-point territory. He was the main catalyst in Italy’s first quarter outburst after converting a floater, a pair of three-pointers, and a dunk.
Amadeo Della Valle (17 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 6/6 FT)
Gilas’ hopes of trimming Italy’s 29-point lead after the opening canto was quickly subdued by Della Valle as he made sure that Italy’s offense won’t regress when the starters sat out for a breather. The former EuroBasket U-20 Most Valuable Player (MVP) came off the bench and quickly knocked-down a three-pointer at the 6:26 mark of the second period to extend Italy’s advantage to 34 points. He continued to provide key baskets for the Azzurri afterwards and finished the match with a game-high 17 points.
CJ Perez and Robert Bolick (combined for 21 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists)
If there was a silver lining for the Philippines in this frustrating clash, then this must be it. The two Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) rookies were a late addition to the Gilas Pool for the 2019 FIBA World Cup, but based on this game alone, they showed to everyone watching that they absolutely belong in this squad (at kung advance ka mag-isip, pwedeng-pwede sila for 2023). Both players were fearless as they tirelessly attacked and hustled with nothing to lose. Perez and Bolick provided head Coach Yeng Guiao a nice spark off the bench, but unfortunately, it was not enough to startle the Italians.
Junemar Fajardo (9 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, and 1 block)
Another Filipino who impressed against the Azzurri was the five-time PBA MVP. Fajardo came off the bench and overcame an injury scare to keep Gilas afloat. His impact on the match was clearly seen as the Italians had a huge problem battling Fajardo in the paint. The behemoth drew fouls from box-outs, grabbed boards with ease, played stellar defense, and had one beautiful pick-and-roll play with Perez towards the end of the fourth canto. His scoring output would be a little bit higher if only his teammates delivered him the ball in the post as he frequently sealed his opponents brilliantly.
- The clash between Gilas and Italy only had one deadlock (2-2 at the 9:24 mark of the first period after a Mark Barroca jumper) as the Azzurri demonstrated a gigantic gap in terms of execution and experience. The Italians won by 46 points, but their lead ballooned to 53 points at one point.
- Italy’s ridiculous shooting in the first quarter was the turning point in this match as the Philippines struggled to be on par with their competitors. The Italians quickly clicked on the offensive end with their fluid ball-movement, while their length and versatility on defense (they were switching almost everything – even Gallinari was guarding center Andrey Blatche) forced Gilas to commit numerous turnovers and take well-contested shots.
- Speaking of defense, Guiao had no answer to the Azzurri’s offensive onslaught. Whether it was man-to-man or zone, Italy had no difficulty draining shots all over the floor. Gilas allowed the Italians to shoot 58.2% of their field goal attempts. Their three-point percentage was outstanding as well at 48.4.
- The offense of Gilas was stagnant the entire game. The Filipinos’ ball-movement was non-existent as they only racked up 10 assists compared to the Italians’ 30. They often relied on one-on-one plays, which is a red-flag at the international stage. An improvement in this department will be expected in the next game.
- 13%. This is the three-point percentage of the Philippines beyond the arc. It was a nightmare for Gilas as they had trouble making it rain from the outside. Three-point shooting has always been a strength for the Filipinos in the previous tournaments (see: Jimmy Alapag, Larry Fonacier, Jeff Chan, and fine to some extent, Gary David), but since Marcio Lassiter and Matthew Wright got injured right before the World Cup started, it left Guiao scrambling for replacements. There are no stand-out spot-up shooters in this team so all of them must step-up and find their shooting touch as soon as possible.
- Side-note: It was nice to see Kiefer Ravena playing basketball again after his 18-month suspension, but there were still signs of rustiness in his game. He’ll get better as he continues to receive minutes under his belt. So no worries here, the talent is undeniable.
- To add: It seems like Blatche also received an 18-month suspension as his game was below par. Yes, he earned a double-double (15 points and 10 rebounds), but had team-highs both in turnovers (9) and fouls (4).